This month, poet Brent Goodman has given us permission to discuss one of his poems. We've selected "Evaporation," which appeared December 30, 2008, as the weekly installment of Linebreak.
Read the poem several times. What are your first impressions? What story is the narrator telling? How does he feel about the story? Remember: for purposes of discussion, always assume the narrator is different from the poet. In your initial read of the piece, try to simply absorb the characters, the settings, the images, the "happenings" and the emotions.
Then read the poem out loud. Read it out loud again, but slower this time.
How has the poet crafted the piece? What devices is he using to deliver you the images, happenings and emotions you grabbed the first-time through? Remember: the poet is the author. He has placed his words exactly how he wants them to "make" the poem. On these reads, think about things like repetition of phrases or sounds, stanza breaks -- or the lack of them and line length. Think about the strength of each word: how precise the verbs are (cuts, splices, confides) and how specific the nouns are (MGB instead of "car" and moraines instead of "hills" or "ridges").
Use the comments section to discuss any of these ideas or let us know what the poem brings out in you. Next week, we'll propose a writing prompt based on our discussion!
Brent's debut poetry collection, The Brother Swimming Beneath Me (2009), is available from Black Lawrence Press. He is the author of two chapbooks: Trees are the Slowest Rivers and the award-winning Wrong Horoscope.
Be sure to go visit Brent at his blog (the brother swimming beneath me) to thank him for offering up "Evaporation" to us and to encourage him in his recovery from a recent heart attack. He's making wonderful progress!
Administrative note: As you may have noticed, we got off track a bit last month. We're catching up now. If you're interested in how it happened, you can check the housekeeping note here. Welcome back!